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Chop, Ukraine

I got on the train for Lviv at Kosice, Slovakia, at 7:24 but I didn’t have a ticket. I’d gone to what I think was the Kasa, ticket booth, in kosice station but the woman behind the curtains didn’t speak any English. I showed her my print out with the train I wanted to get on it, but she just wrote down the time of the train on it, even though the time was already on there. I told her I wanted to buy a ticket but she was just pointing to the train. It was about 7:10. I should have said billet instead of ticket, she probably would have understood that. Anyway, I assumed I’d be able to buy a ticket on the train.

There was a train going to Kiev, then further up the platform there was a coach going to Lviv. I asked a ticket inspector on there if I could buy a ticket, showing him my printout. He was saying billette and I was saying I wanted to buy one. I took out my wallet to show him my money. In one of the compartments there was another guard, a woman, eating breakfast. I couldn’t buy a ticket on the train, at least not for Lviv. I had to get off the train, which wasn’t yet moving, and get on the carriage behind that was going to the border town of Chop. I could buy a ticket on the train for Chop and then at Chop I’d have to get off and buy a ticket for Lviv.

Just before Chop, at the border, passport control got on. The train was stopped for ages at this customs post, a number of men in uniform hanging around outside on the platform. At Chop there was another passport control in the station. I had to fill out an entry form, twice. Getting through I could see that the train for Lviv was still at the platform. Passing a number of taxi touts and money changing touts, one guy holding out a handful of notes, I found the ticket kiosk and said Lviv, pointing to the train outside. The woman in the booth wrote down 15:10, which at first I thought was the price, but then she pointed to the clock. It was now about 11 o’clock. I thought maybe the train out there was going to sit there for 4 hours, but she gave me the arrival time which was a couple of hours later than the time on my printout, so I guessed it would be another train I’d be getting. She wouldn’t take payment on my card, and said bank, so I had to go outside and find a bank. At least the cash points here speak English, though everything is written in cyrillic so it’s not easy to work out what’s what. I could see some people standing at what looked like a cash machine, and it was.

When I got back to the station with my cash the Lviv train was still at the platform, but it left as I was buying the ticket for the later 15:10 train. I don’t know why they didn’t give me the option before of buying a ticket for the earlier train, but I wasn’t in a position to argue. At least I’d have some time to have something to eat in this town. I hadn’t had any breakfast.

I found a place that looked like a restaurant, with tables outside on a terrace and some women inside sitting at a table eating. I sat down at a table and waited. One off the women from the eating table came over. I made eating signs, pointing to my mounth. She said no, or nyet. But she offered me coffee. I noticed some slices of what looked like cake on the counter and pointed to them. She took out one. I saw it wasn’t that big so asked for another. It turned out to be some kind of garlic bread.

I eventually found the town’s restaurant, but couldn’t read anything on the menu. The waitress went through a number of options. She suggested borsch, which I know – a soup – she said the word soup. I’d had borsch in Lithuania where it was a cold beetroot soup served with a plate of boiled potatoes. Didn’t like it much, but I needed to eat something. Then the waitress was suggesting a main course, going through various things I didn’t understand and I was just saying yes, or da. People do seem to speak and understand Russian here, though it’s no longer the official language and according to the Lonely Planet they don’t like speaking Russian in the west of Ukraine, which is where I now am. I understood fish and nodded, and pomodora (tomato). She was asking what kind of garnish I wanted and I was just trying to say I don’t care. Just bring me food and I’ll eat it. I’m not fussy.